Nov. 21, 2007 – As the holidays near and thoughts turn to giving, the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center at the University of Utah is preparing to celebrate more than just the 12 days of Christmas with a 20-week campaign of giving to celebrate the center’s 20-year legacy of service.
Since its dedication in 1987, the Bennion Center has encouraged U of U students to become civically engaged through service to their communities. Having begun on the optimistic note chanted by its students, “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it,” the Bennion Center celebrates its 20th anniversary by inviting individuals along the Wasatch Front and beyond to share in the experience of service.
The 20 Years, 20 Weeks of Service campaign welcomes citizens to participate in 20 weeks of service acts, as outlined in The Service Handbook: A Pocket Guide to Civic Engagement. The pocket-sized booklet is intended to take the reader, step-by-step, through the process of researching, planning, implementing and reflecting upon a service project.
“We hope this handbook will encourage more people to learn about the root social issues behind a service project and take the additional steps of talking about why the issue is important and discussing further steps to solving the issue,” says Alicia Geesman, the Bennion Center’s director of alumni and donor relations.
Geesman remarks that for 20 years the Bennion Center has given students the tools to become civically engaged in their communities. “With this handbook we hope to extend these tools to the greater community, continuing the legacy of Lowell L. Bennion-humanitarian, teacher, friend and inspiration to so many.”
Beginning Nov. 26, 2007, individuals are encouraged to perform one (or more) service act each week through April 11, 2008. After each service act, participants are invited to share their experiences online at www.bennioncenter.org/reflections.
The Service Handbook is being distributed to dozens of community locations along the Wasatch Front and can be obtained by calling 801-581-4811 or e-mail Gina Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some examples of service opportunities listed in The Service Handbook include:
- Donate bedding for homeless families; Road Home Community Winter Shelter (801) 328-8756
- Be a foster grandparent to a child with special needs; SL County Aging Services (801) 468-2855
- Call BINGO at a senior living facility; Multi-Ethnic Senior Citizen Highrise (801) 328-2090 ext 13
- Donate dog/cat food; Utah Animal Adoption Center (formerly Wasatch Humane) 801-486-6210
- Provide and prepare evening meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House; contact Beth to arrange (801) 363-4663.
- Help non-English-speaking seniors become self-reliant; Senior Employment Program (801) 468-2485
- Make quilts for animals waiting to be adopted at your local animal rescue organization; Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) (801) 328-4731
- Plan and practice a family fire escape drill; Utah Safety Council (800) 933-5943
- Write stories to help adults learn to read and write; Literacy Action Center (801) 326-8101
- Provide homework help to kids in grades 1 through 6; Salt Lake City Main Library (801) 322-8106.
- Plan a visit to and volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization; Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (435) 644-2001 ext. 119
- Volunteer to help senior citizens and people with disabilities with yard work, gardening, raking, and snow removal; Utah Food Bank Services (801) 978-2452 www.utahfoodbank.org
Ranked third in the nation and recognized internationally as a leader in engaging students in service to their communities, the Bennion Center involves more than 7,800 volunteers annually, providing more than 250,000 hours of service in the community. With each volunteer hour currently valued at $18.77, Bennion Center volunteers provide in excess of $4.6 million in service to local communities each year.
For more information on the Bennion Center or for 20th anniversary news and events, visit http://www.bennioncenter.org/ or call 801-581-4811.